On July 4th, in small town America, a large group of intrepid patriots buck imported liberal politics to stand up and walk behind a banner that reads: Southern Colorado Patriots Club. It has not been an easy road to get an Open-Carry contingent in the annual parade.
Mike Hess spoke passionately about the attempts to derail their efforts over the years. "They wanted to cancel the whole thing, rather than let us march," he said, sweating after the nearly one-mile hike at altitude in the hot sun. "One year, they wanted to let us march, but without even a banner or weapons, or a rally at the end. There goes the Second Amendment and the First Amendment."
But, in the rural, mountain town of Westcliffe, CO, where those marching with AR-15's slung across their backs call the Sheriff's Deputies by name and stop to shake their hands, the liberal fear of a gun takes a back seat. This is especially true where Mike Hess and George Gramlich have taken on the local liberal newspaper by starting the Sangre De Cristo Sentinel, a conservative newspaper that boasts 20+ pages with extensive advertisements.
It was an honor to march with these patriots on the Fourth of July. At first, I came to support them, but as we moved down the crowded street and those watching from the sidewalks waved and cheered for this group of patriots, I felt like the one who was being supported. It is easy to fall into the habit of thinking everyone is against patriotic feelings in America and that no one remembers how we started this nation and the lives that have been given to maintain it for 240 years (depending on when you start the clock), but then one might go to Westcliffe and discover that there are a lot of Americans who remember what it took and know what it will take to maintain the liberties we have come to rely on over that time.
At the end of the parade, I spent some time at the Sentinel offices where a number of people had gathered to give their thanks to Mike Hess and George Gramlich. Those gathered were and are as big a part of the success of the Open-Carry event and the newspaper as either of them, because without readers (such as those who read this) there is little one can do to spread the message of liberty. Without those willing to march down a street with weapons carried openly, the certainty of the Second Amendment is lost.